Ravi’s Favorite Books at Two Years of Age

When my nieces were little, I used to ask my sister what I should get them for their birthdays or holidays, and most every time she answered: books.  Needless to say, they got lots of children books. Additionally, my sister takes them to the local library regularly.  No wonder my older niece, Do, reads every night before she sleeps just like my sister and I used to do; my younger niece, Jo, has reading ability way surpassed her grade level.  I am so very proud of them, and would like to think that I contributed in a small way with some of the book I got them.

I wanted Ravi to be a reader too, so I started reading to him when he was just a few months old.  But he never showed any interest before one.  Sometimes I get lucky and he would let me read couple of pages, but his impatience would kick and turns around to find other things to amuse himself with.  I loss hope for a while and stop reading to him for a few months.  When we visited my sister’s family in Albany last year, she gave us dozens of toddler books from Do and Jo’s library.  We were so excited and encouraged to pick up reading to Ravi again.  Slowly from 18 months on, Ravi started to show interest in reading.  Finally by 2 years of age, he would demand to be read to regularly.

Mario and I take turns to read to Ravi.  There are some books that we love as adults and some Ravi loves.  Out of the dozens we have, here’s the top 8 ranked in order of how much all of us enjoy them.

1.  “One Hungry Monster”, by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe.  This is one book that all three of us enjoy tremendously.  The story is in rhymes and counts from one to ten.  It is well written, and the pictures are fantastic.  Overall, it is just the cutest book ever.  For a span of  a couple of months, we read this book every night!

2.  “The Day The Babies Crawled Away“, Peggy Rathmann.  Mario and I fell in love with this book the first time we read it!  It took a while for Ravi to like it since there are quit a few words in it.  Graphic and story are both are great.  It is probably more of a three year old book rather than a two year old book.

3.  “Olivia Saves the Circus“, by Ian Falconer.  I got to be honest, none of us liked this book the first time we read it.  But more and more it grew on us.  Now we think it is the cutest book ever!  Ravi requests to have it read to him all the time and Mario loves to act out and exaggerate the voices when he reads it.  We even started to watch Olivia on TV.  Fun, fun, fun!

4.  “Knuffle Bunny“, by Mo Willems.  This is a story about Trixie and his security bunny, Knuffle.  Ravi loves reading this one.  Story is simply, graphic is innovative, lots of fun for everyone.

5.  “Knuffle Bunny Too“, by Mo Willems.  This story is about Trixie and Knuffle Bunny a few years later.  I thought the original was going to be hard to beat, but this one definitely hold its own.  It maintained its edge and story is still new and fun.

6.  “ABC“, by Dr. Seuss’s.  We actually have both the cardboard and hardcover copies.  Ravi loves the inside covers with alphabets all over the place.  We would generally begin or/and end the book by singing the ABC song at least once.

7.  “Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!”  by Dr. Seuss’s.  I contribute Ravi’s new angry phrase: “you, get out!” from this book…  But I do like this book myself and I always act out the words when I read it to Ravi.

8.  “Hop on Pop“, by Dr. Seuss’s.  This book seemed to be Ravi and Mario’s favorite book to read together.  Ravi rarely asks me to read it to him.

Since we moved we haven’t been very disciplined in reading every night.  But we are now getting back into the habit.  Reading time is our family time where we all laugh and cuddle together.  It is as fun for me and Mario as it is for Ravi.  We all look forward to it everyday.  I hope you all like our book choices too.

-Flo.

Ravi’s Eating Habit is Finally Improving…

Since Ravi was born, I have been obsessed with the amount of food he eats because he has always eaten very little and has been under weight since a few months old.  I used to get so upset when he refused to eat the food I spent hours cooking for him.  Sometimes I would even try to force feed him, only to realize later how wrong I was.  Eating time was always the most depressing and frustrating time for me (and probably for Ravi).  Despite all my struggles, Ravi remains a healthy and happy boy; it is as if the lack of food has had nothing to do with his well being.  So at the beginning of this year, I decided to stop obsessing and let Ravi be his own boss in the food department.  If he wants to eat, he eats; if not, he can go hungry.

Throughout the last two years, my favorite conversation topic with other moms was eating habits of underweight kids.  I am so thankful that I have such a strong support group of experienced moms to rely on.  Their feedback has helped me tremendously.  What I realized is that Ravi’s weight does not fall into the severe case.  My friend Han-Ching’s girl was so skinny during the first few years of her life that she dropped off the weight chart!  Talk about stress.  Other moms who shared similar weight problem with me pointed out the obvious, that Asians are in general skinnier than the rest of the population in this country that we are being compared to.  This is so true!  Mario and I were both skinny to the bones as little kids.  Ravi is probably doing better than we did.  My sister gave me some great insight as well.  She mentioned that force feeding may have resulted in Ravi’s adverse reaction to eating, and eating chocolate (which Ravi loves) may have resulted in loss of appetite.

I’ve done much research on line on this topic.  I read somewhere that by controlling what kids can or cannot eat often lead to bad eating habits later in life.  For example, when french fries were restricted in a household, the kids are more likely to hoard and overeat them when they finally have access to them.  So I also decided to give up some control over Ravi’s snacks.  If he wanted some chocolate after dinner, he can have some, but never too much so he won’t eat the next meal.

Two weeks ago we began to send Ravi to a new daycare facility near our new home.  Prior to that, Ravi has been at the same in-home daycare since he was four months old.  While we liked the low price and convenience, we also realized there were many disadvantages.  For example, their tiny living room where the daycare is being operated does not allow much room for exercising or engaging in creativity.  Another issue was the lack of control in food as the lady feeds whatever and whenever she wants to the kids, sometimes including cup of noodle and boxed mac and cheese.  She also feeds multiple kids at the same time with the same spoon.  Most of the nights when Ravi comes home he would not want to eat dinner.  Little of what he would eat were grind up or processed baby food, and he showed no interest in what we would eat for dinner.  While we were there, I turned a blind eye because I felt so incapable of feeding Ravi.  Unknowingly, I let things get worse and worse.

I dreaded sending Ravi to the new daycare because I had to provide his lunches.  His first week there also coincided with the chaos of our move, as the result he ate every little at lunch.  But he always came home hungry and wanted to eat something like crackers and bread.  By the second week, I started to get a better handle on his food.  Ravi also became more interested in our dinner.  One night, Mario and I had pork chops for dinner.  I was so surprise that Ravi came by and wanted a bite from his daddy’s plate.  He never liked meat before, and would always turn his nose away when we tried to give him any.  This time however, he came back again and again asking for more.  By the time he finished, he had eaten about a dozen little bits equal to 1 square inch by half inch in volume.  That was the most incredible thing!  The next night I especially made turkey patties and he gobbled down more than one of those 2 inch round by quarter of inch thick patties!  Then we had noodles and he ate some of that with his hand…  Suddenly he changed!  He now likes grapes, fish sticks, apples, or whatever we are eating.

How incredible!  I am just overwhelmed by the change of events.  I now look forward to dinner time and cooking something new to feed Ravi.  I still give him chocolate and sweets, but only after dinner and never too much.  Mario and I have also established a no milk right before dinner rule so he would eat more for dinner.  The biggest thing we are doing now is to allow him to eat by himself.  Sure this can get messy, but he loves to get his hands on the food and shove into his month.  When I see him get all happy and dirty at dinner time, I am filled with joy.  I now know that we are on the right path and Ravi is going to be okay.

-Flo.

Ravi’s 24 Months Check Up

Yesterday Mario and I took Ravi to his 24 months check up.  We were very much looking forward to it because we so wanted to find out about his latest official height and weight percentiles.  We had high hope that he has gained a little more weight and kept the same height percentile.

After much wiggling and crying on Ravi’s part, the nurse finally got her measurements down and ushered us into a waiting room.  There we had to strip Ravi down to his diaper and change him into an toddler size hospital gown.  That was not easy.  Ravi parted with his cloth (especially his shoes and socks) like a billionaire with all his money.  The pediatrician came in and his every poke and touch was greeted with much resistance and crying.  Finally we got down to the weight and height.  Ravi measured 24 lbs, compared to 22 lbs at 18 months checkup, that is equivalent of 6.8% among his peers versus 5.8% at 18 months.  In terms of height, he gained only little over an inch.  He measured 34.7″ at 24 months versus 33.5″ at 18 months, which dropped him to 54.6% from 85% at 18 months.  An additional measurement his pediatrician gave us this time was the Body Mass Index (BMI).  Ravi measured 1%, which means he is considerably underweight.  The interesting thing about BMI is on the same day, I read an article about First Lady Michelle Obama offering some BMI related advice.  Looks like this topic is quickly becoming a popular issue.

Due to Ravi’s low weight, the pediatrician did not recommend us to switch to 2% milk like we read from books.  He also suggested that we bring Ravi in again in six month for another check up so he can monitor his weight closely.  He also asked us about Ravi’s food intake.  When we mentioned that Ravi drinks about ~24 fl.oz. of milk a day, he was concerned and recommended that we reduce the amount since high consumption of milk can lead to iron deficiencies.  Some of his other suggestions include drinking prune juice to soften the stool, add more fish to the diet, give a gummy iron pill a day, brush teeth with fluoride tooth paste twice a day.  He even gave Ravi and Dori sticker on his way out, but that did not change how Ravi feels about him.

Even though the entire appointment took nearly a whole morning, Mario and I really enjoyed talking to Ravi’s pediatrician.  I personally got a list of action items based on our conversation and can’t wait to implement them at home.  I am hoping we are on the right path for weight gain, even though I am really sad that Ravi is loosing in height advantage.  I remind myself everyday that even though Ravi is thin, he is a health and well developed little boy and I should not let worry over cloud my judgment.

-Flo.

Straws

I don’t believe in buying lots of toys for my child, nor being obligated to buy presents on birthdays or major holidays.  I know that I can be a tight wad sometimes, but in this case I feel good about my policy.  The pressure of getting gifts for a specific occasion is not an efficient way of spending money, nor is it reasonable to defer an important purchase till the arrival of a special day.  I have no problems buying Ravi anything he really needs independent of time and price, as long as the needs are real and justified.  Besides, Ravi has been getting lots of great gifts and hand-me-downs from family and friends, so there’s really no reason to buy any more toys ourselves.

That being said, Ravi is not very addicted to actual toys.  He much prefers to play with random things he finds at home.  He’s favorites are bottles and smaller objects he can fit into a bottle.  He would open and close the bottles like hundred times, pretend to drink or pour from it, drop items into it and take them out, put cap on and rattle it…etc.  The fun is endless.  The latest new “toy” he found is straws.

 

Ravi's Straws

 

A while back we bought a pack of colored straws for $2 from a local store.   One day Ravi opened the drawer where the straws were kept and pour half of the bag onto the floor.  Instead of getting mad at him, we picked them up one by one and practiced identifying colors together.  He was fascinated and particularly fond of the orange ones.  From that day on, he played with the straws every night.  Mario even donated his fancy pencil holder for the cause, so now when we clean up we put all the straws in it and display them on the shelf.

 

Ravi picking up the orange color straws from the pile

I was amazed that the $1 worth of straws can get so much play time.  I definitely would not buy another toy if I can find more of these great toys around the house.

 

-Flo.

Mario’s Birthday Lunch

Remember Ravi’s trip to the zoo on Mario’s birthday?  For those that didn’t know, we also celebrated Mario’s birthday in a small way, mainly due to his busy school schedule.  We took him out to his favorite restaurant for lunch, the Sea Harbor Restaurant, right after the zoo trip.

In the good old days when we didn’t have Ravi, Mario and I used to eat out at good restaurants every week and we enjoyed those experiences very much.  However, every time we ate at Sea Harbor we always ordered the same things.  So this time, we decided to step outside of our comfort zone and try couple of things we never had before.  Additional to Pork and Shrimp Dumpling (Shumai), Shark Fin Scallop Dumpling, Chicken Feet (yumm) and other staples, we ordered Beef Egg Porridge and Dry Scallop and Mushroom Rice Noodles.

 

Beef and Egg Porridge

The Beef and Egg Porridge was okay, but not pregnant women friendly.  It has tender slices of beef in soft porridge, and I am guessing once it got put into a big bowl, an raw egg was dropped into it.  When served,  the egg was supposed to be broken up and mixed with the hot porridge to allow it to cook somewhat.  I didn’t know about the raw egg part and happily ate some of this porridge, only to find out about its raw ingredient.  So I felt a little scared after.  But the porridge was really good and Mario had no problem finishing the rest.  Though in my book, I probably wouldn’t order it again.

Dry Scallop and Mushroom Rice Noodles

It is in Chinese tradition to eat noodles on the birthdays because it symbolizes longevity.  So Mario went fancy and ordered something expensive ($13) and sounded pretty cool.  However, when it arrived to our table, our opinions were split.  Mario didn’t like its blend taste.  Me on the other hand thought it was pretty good.  The most expensive ingredient in the dish was the dry sea scallop and there’s certainly plenty found in this dish.  There were also slices of dried Shiitake mushroom and minced pork.  I loved the simplicity of this noodle dish and even Ravi indulged me and ate couple of bites.

By the time we were there for about an hour, Ravi started to become agitated sitting in his seat so we had to hurry up and go.  But overall, it was really nice eating out again.  Mario certainly enjoyed his birthday lunch at our old hangout.

-Flo.

We’ve Finally Moved!

After we rescheduled the movers three times, we’ve finally moved into our new home this Monday.

I got to say it was a really tough day for me.  Even though we did hire movers and even paid for an extra guy (three movers), my physical condition wasn’t what it used to be.  For one thing, I was suffering from a really bad cold and was unable to breath through my nose or sleep at night for days before and after the move.  I also got up at 6:30AM and didn’t get to rest till 10PM.  I also ate at random that day (sorry gestational diabetes meal plan), a bite of bread here and there, and McDonald’s for lunch.  To top it all off, I am beginning to feel the strain of being eight months pregnant.  Bending and pushing all those boxes was very difficult for me.  Of course Mario had to face his own set of challenges, like being in the middle of school finals and getting over the cold from the week before.

Despite all the challenges, we were well prepared for this move.  Since we thought we were going to move in much earlier, Mario and I started packing way ahead of schedule and committed to fill at least three boxes a day on the days we both are home.  So by the night before the move, we were about 95% packed.  I thought I would be able to pack up the rest when the movers are loading.  Monday was the moving day.  In the morning I sent Mario to take Ravi to his new day care and run a few errands, while I busied myself with packing any left over items I could find.  The movers arrived at our place by 9AM and finally loaded up all our belongings by 12PM and we headed out to our new home.  I thought it wouldn’t take nearly as long to unload, but the move didn’t complete till 4PM that afternoon.  I was surprised that our little two bedroom apartment took eight hours to move, but at least it was done.  We spent the next hour unwrapping all our beds and bedding so we had a place to sleep at night.  Then without much rest, we headed out to pick up Ravi from his new day care.

We have hoped that when we move in the interior of the house would be completed.  But we weren’t so lucky.  Our contractor, Mr. Li, was still working on many areas of the house, so unpacking was not a good option at this point.  However, in the last few days, Mr. Li was able to finish the closets, the stairs, and installation of appliances and kitchen cabinets.  The place is looking better and better each night we come home.  We are slowly unpacking, but we still have to wear shoes around the house since there are lots of dust and tools on the ground due to the renovation work.  I am hoping all the interior work can reach an end by the end of this week so we can finally start making this place our home.

After the move, Mario and I talked about this experience and he was surprised that I thought it was difficult.  To him, this was the easiest move we ever had since we had the help of movers.  During all previous moves, we did everything ourselves, including lifting heavy items up and down the stairs.  I had to explain to him the importance of being in good health and fit.  I didn’t have either this Monday but still had to work as if I had both.  I definitely wouldn’t want to move again anytime soon.

-Flo.

Behavioral Finance Training Workshop

For school these days I spend a lot of time writing. I used to dread writing assignments as they would take me forever to do. These days, they still take me forever to do, but the feeling of dread has gone. School has made me confident, that given adequate time, I can write a fairly legible and actionable business memo.

My last class was on behavioral finance, and culminated in a take home final that consisted of writing about 7 essays. Most of them were short essays, but two were fairly long. The following essay is one of the longer ones. It details the basic idea or plan to construct a trading/investing strategy to help naive investors minimize or eliminate behavioral issues that might affect their stock performance. It seemed a decent topic that wasn’t too involved in behavioral finance minutiae that others might be interested. Here you go-

Mario.

Question 7: You are asked to develop a training workshop for refining individual investor trading behavior. Describe how this course’s materials can help you effectively devise such a program. How would you expect your materials to benefit individual investors?

The most important factor in creating a workshop for individual investors is to give them a concise actionable plan that they can implement immediately to improve their investment allocation choices and to minimize bad trading behaviors. A large part of bad trading behaviors are responses induced by investment allocation regrets. If I can minimize the cause for bad trading behaviors, I can reduce the realized symptoms. Towards that end, the workshop would consist of a brief overview of behavioral finance findings to help them understand what metrics are important, then a quick summary about short term momentum strategies and long term value strategies, and finally incorporate some of the more important behavioral warning flags in the investment world.

The first section of the workshop would focus on displaying issues with the CAPM framework and risk-return paradigm. It would begin with a quick discussion of the data discovered by Fama and French (1992) and Daniel and Titman (1997) showing that the size of the company, the book to market ratio, and the earnings to market ratio are, in general, better predictors of stock returns than betas and factors. This would allow me to introduce a characteristic based model as my favored approach to picking stocks. At this point I would present the findings from Haugen and Baker (1996) outlining the most important accounting and technical variables for stock investments.

The second section would talk about the two main investment strategies that can be employed- short term (typically less than one year) technical momentum trading and long term (1 -5 years) value investing. The technical momentum trading strategy would detail the typical one to two month retrenchment motion for excess winners (with a one to two month formation period), and the typical six to twelve month growth motion for excess winners (with a corresponding six to twelve month formation period). I wouldn’t discuss in-depth the SUE (standard unexpected earnings) strategy, but suggest the immediate selling of any holding that has a negative SUE as a loss aversion tactic for the general momentum trading strategy.

The long term value investing strategy would give a brief description about how value stocks beat out glamor stocks in the two to five year horizon. I would then highlight metrics, accounting or other, that can form the basis of a robust value based strategy. This would consist of metrics such as price ratios (price to earnings, price to cash flow, price to book), the preference for small public companies over large enterprises, the need for steady but not stellar earnings and asset growth rates, low debt, a positive current ratio (CA > CL), healthy or growing profit margins, and the need for diverse products. A value strategy would highlight adding companies over time that met the aforementioned criteria and holding them for three to five years.

Lastly the workshop would include rules and warning flags that would help avoid bad investor behavioral biases. Like the suggested automatic disposition of a negative SUE announcement for a momentum play, these warning flags would reduce the potential for bad investment/trading decisions. They would consist of always ignoring IPOs and analysts with less than a year experience, avoiding companies run by CEOs with a ‘Holder 67’ personality, getting rid of a company that finds itself with a ‘superstar CEO’, dumping a company when they mention a SEO (seasoned equity offering), ignoring companies that are growing through acquisitions instead of organically, immediately selling a position that goes down by 20% versus the market, and not being allowed to sell a position that goes up by 20% versus the market, and deliberately limiting the amount of turnover allowed in the portfolio (to something reasonable like 10% per year).

All of these guidelines would be suggestions designed to help minimize bad investor behaviors or other inherent biases. For example, the always sell a stock that is 20% down and to not sell a stock that is 20% up relative to the market would be a guideline intended to minimize the disposition effect seen in most naive traders. Similarly, the maximum turnover rule is there to minimize the possibility of self-attribution bias or the illusion of knowledge to hinder investment returns. Not all of them need to be followed all of the time, but the goal is to follow the majority of them most of the time. Arguably they should not be necessary if the workshop attendee is following the suggested trading/investing strategies presented. They are only there when issues arise.

Ravi’s Birthday and Trip to the Zoo

One morning two years ago, I was woken up by feeling of tremendous pain.  I looked out through the window and it was pitch black outside.  Then I looked at the clock and it was barely 5AM in the morning.  After a while the pain subsided and I fell back asleep.  Unfortunately the pain came back again and again… Then I realized that this was the beginning of my contractions.  The long waited arrival of baby Ravi was about to come.

I silently suffered this pain till 7:30AM to wake up Mario, because this was a special day, it was his birthday.  Our plan was for him to take the day off and enjoy it together.  We even made a reservation at a fancy restaurant for dinner.  When he opened his eyes I told him I have a good news and a bad news, and asked which one he preferred to hear first.  He choose the good news.  I handed him his birthday present.  Then I told him the bad news: the baby is coming very very soon!  He didn’t panic then, probably because he wasn’t really awake yet.  But he did spend the rest of his birthday panicking.  As it turned out, Ravi didn’t come out till 6PM the next day which gave him his own birthday, the day after his daddy’s birthday.  Due to this experience, I often refer to Ravi as Mario’s birthday present.

A few days ago Ravi turned two years old.  We didn’t get him many presents as we didn’t think he needed anything, but we did take him to the zoo for the first time in his life, on his daddy’s birthday.  This is because daddy would have to be in school on Ravi’s birthday, therefore miss any celebration scheduled on that day.

Ravi and daddy headed toward LA Zoo Entrance

Ravi Enjoying Running Around in the Zoo

The animals we saw.

The animals were fun to look at, but Ravi enjoyed running around in circles and tasting all sorts of snacks daddy bought.  Here’s Ravi walking where he doesn’t suppose to.  Notice his mouth is full, he just had a big bite of cinnamon churro from daddy.

Here’s a shot of Ravi with taffy coated almonds in this month.  Not one but more like five.  I know this because he spat out into my hand a little later.

It was such a fun day for all three of us!  We can’t wait for daddy to finish school so we can do something fun every weekend.

-Flo.

 

The World is at a Crossroads – Toastmaster’s Speech

My toastmasters group recently had an International Speech Competition that I decided to compete in. The International Speeches are meant to be uplifting and universal in nature, so I decided to do a speech about the current global situation. Here is my first draft of the speech. It is written out in full sentences as I was striving for impact and I come to realize, while pursuing my MBA, that words can have a greater impact on one’s ideas than just about anything else. While there are other mediums to express data, an idea is still best expressed with the written word.

    • The World is at a Crossroads

Current worldwide economic distress has reached acute levels. For the last three years, we’ve heard about foreclosures all over America and Europe. We have seen fellow Americans without jobs and without homes. This has caused large amounts of turmoil and suffering. What has recently become particularly painful is that the world-wide cost of ‘just living’ has dramatically risen. This increase is dire for developing nations. Rice has gone up 78%, cotton by 147%, and food, in general, by nearly 100% in the last five years. In countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Haiti the average daily income is $1.75. The average citizen used to spend $1.00 per day just on food. Now they are forced to spend $2.

Gross inequality has always existed, but the internet has made it possible to see it in real time. Thanks to Google Earth, the people of Bahrain have seen pictures of the opulent palaces held by the royal family, while the vast majority live in squalor and cramped living spaces. In Egypt, their economic woes have toppled an autocratic dictatorship of nearly thirty years, with the uprising organized and coordinated on Facebook and Twitter. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi has attacked his own people and is still fighting to maintain his tyranny. Protests have spread to Saudi Arabia against the widespread corruption, lack of infrastructure, and outright theft perpetrated against the Saudi people by their “rulers.” All of these injustices we can see instantly and vividly. What is worse is that we are partially to blame for them.

In the Middle East, America’s actions are unconscionable. We support the ruling tyranny in Saudi Arabia. We support the ruling tyranny in Bahrain. And until push came to shove, we supported Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. Not until the Egyptian people were on the brink of starvation and were willing to be outright killed by their overlords did we “decide” to lend our support to the Egyptian people. In the name of securing oil supplies for ourselves, for maintaining stable shipping lines we have condoned, time and again, tyrants, dictators, and countless atrocities. In this respect, our Middle East foreign relations are not much different than China’s relationship with North Korea.

While this sounds dire, I believe we have but only lost our way. We still possess the ability to change. America was founded on principles of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. We have welcomed those yearning to breathe free and we have supported countless movements for Democracy in many, many parts of the world. While we have failed, we have also succeeded. Vietnam was a visual example of our greatest failure. We hope that Iraq will be an example of success. Only time will tell. What has happened is that we have gotten tired. We have gotten lazy. We have seen that more often than not, the fight for democracy involves untold amounts of hardship, blood, and sacrifice. We have found that we cannot stomach the hardship needed to promote democracy unfailingly throughout the world. And so we have compromised.

As Americans one and all, I urge you to find the strength to carry on. I urge you to find hope and to shoulder the great burden thrust upon our shoulders. America was and continues to be a shining paragon of light for democracy around the world. More importantly, I urge you to truly consider yourself not only as a citizen of America, a great experiment in Democracy suited only to the temperament of North America, but as a citizen of the world. We need to dig deep within ourselves and find the ability to continue, to persevere, and to promote democracy throughout the world. We need to promote Democracy unfailingly, constantly, and completely. For through Democracy and solidarity alone, is there any chance that oppression throughout the world will be repressed. The time has come for America, and Americans, to rethink our position in the Middle East. We cannot promote Democracy for the people of Iraq and deny it for the people of Saudi Arabia. Our allies must realize that promotion of their lesser forms of tyranny, dictatorship, and feudalism is not our end goal. It is but a situation that we haven’t changed yet. Yet change we will.

Termites

Last Tuesday, our contractor, Mr. Li, showed me some questionable droppings he found on the floor.

He suspected this was termite droppings.  I was shocked!  Even though we bought this house from the bank (as is), we did pay for a termite inspection out of our own pockets and found no live termites.  Here we are two months later with potential evidence of live termites.

There were two things going through my mind: extra expense that I didn’t anticipate and further delay in schedule.

I spun into action immediately.  I called several people I trusted and got their referrals on termite extermination companies.  Eventually I down selected to the one my parents used when they renovated.  I was able to schedule for an inspector to come out the very next day and determined that we do need to be tented.  It took a day to complete paper work and obtain permits.  The tent went up last Friday and came down Monday morning, after two and a half days of fumigation.

So six days and $1500 later, we are now free of termites.  For sure, this time.  This fun exercise also pushed our move-in day to next week with an added bonus of a potential roof change.  Good times of being a home owner.

Next stop, roof inspection.  Anyone wants to bet I’ll be spending my retirement fund on a new roof?

-Flo.